Baku Nightlife: 20 Best Bars and Nightclubs (2017) - Azerbaijan

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars)
I spent 2 days in Baku during the Formula 1 Grand Prix in June 2017. I partied on two evenings and, even though I probably only scratched the surface of the nightlife, I'm writing this short guide about the best bars and nightclubs I have been to.

Baku Nightlife
From what I've seen, Baku nightlife is not very interesting for a single guy. The main problem is that middle-class Azeri women do not frequent nightclubs or bars. They often live in conservative families that do not allow them to party or even to hang out with friends late at night.

As a result, most nightclubs are populated by only men and prostitutes. Many can be found in the shabby basements of buildings around the city center. They are dark, poorly designed and dodgy, with rarely more than 20 customers. Girls are often Russians, getting money from either dancing, companionship or sex. As I was there during the Grand Prix, the guys seemed to be from everywhere, with a majority from Turkey and the Middle East.
Atmosphere inside a "basement" club
Some upper-class Azeri women are more liberal, though. You will rarely see one in those basements. They hang out in elite nightspots (restaurants, lounges, hookah bars, live music cafés, etc) that can be quite expensive. These venues are not really interesting for single guys since customers stay between groups of friends. If you are alone, you may even be refused entry if you are not accompanied by a woman (for instance in Pasifico or in Buddha Bar).

Nightlife Areas + Nearby Hotels
The center of Baku nightlife is around Merchant's Street (called Torgovaya), a small pedestrian area east of the Old City. The most distinguishable landmark there is the Fountain's Square. From there, you will be within 5 minutes walking distance from most the venues listed below.

I would recommend choosing a hotel nearby, for instance, one of the following:

5-star hotel:
Hilton Baku: 200$ per night, rated 8.6/10

4-star hotel:
Park Inn By Radisson: 130$ per night, rated 8.3/10. They have a nightclub, Eleven, on the 11th floor.

3-star hotel:
Karat Inn Hotel: 60$ per night, rated 8.4/10

You can check this list of properties to help you: Hotels Near Fountain Square in Baku.

A 5-minute walk away, there is a small red light district with discreet massage parlors and hostess clubs (the famous basement clubs mentioned earlier). The highest concentration is at the crossroad between Bulbul Avenue and Dilara Aliyeva Street. Some of the notable venues are Status, Coral, Grotta, Blackbird, Leo etc. All of them have sexy dancers and prostitutes. Entrance is free but drinks may be overpriced. Beware of scams.
Sexy dancers inside a basement club
Finally, the area around National Flag Square is also interesting for eating out and partying. It is a renovated industrial area with hipster restaurants (El Portalon, Atelye 61, Maya Mexican) and bars (La Vida Tequila Bar and Enerji nightclub). I don't recommend staying there as it is too far from the city center, but if you must, the East Legend Hotel has good ratings (60$ per night).

Best Bars and Nightclubs in Baku
I didn't really have fun in Baku. Most of the night spots are quiet (even during the F1 Grand Prix!) and the attitude of the staff is rarely welcoming to foreigners. As a single guy, you can expect being denied entry in all the most famous venues so you'll need to find a date to accompany you (Tinder is your best chance).

Something worth pointing out is that 80% of the most famous bars and nightclubs in Baku belong to one group called Saffron. Their properties are popular with Azerbaijan's golden youth, the sons and daughters of the elite. They generally prefer staying between themselves and they'll rarely show any interest for people who don't belong to their circle.

Still, I'm listing those places below due to the lack of alternatives. Please leave me a comment below if you think I should add/remove one!

Pasifico
One of the most happening night spots in Baku, it is owned by the Saffron group. It was recommended to me unanimously by all the Azeris I met.

On my first night, I was unable to get in because I was not accompanied by a girl. On my second attempt, I brought a date for dinner (note that there is a 50 Manats minimum spend).

It is a mid-sized lounge, sandwiched between the Caspian Sea and the Boulevard. Pleasant views, especially from the terrace.

The food was overpriced, as expected, but the taste was decent. Louder dance music starts around midnight. The dance floor was half empty. Most guests are groups of friends or couples. Some girls looked like prostitutes.

More information: Pasifico Baku

Enerji
Also part of the Saffron group, Enerji is one of the few proper nightclubs in Baku. It is located less than 10 minutes by taxi from the city center, near the National Flag Square. It is built on two floors: A semi-open terrace with a dance floor and sofas, and a mezzanine for dining. Bouncers may allow single males to enter but you can book a dinner in advance to make sure of that.

Don't expect large crowds during weekdays. Weekends are normally much better. Commercial music. A lot of girls but they are always accompanied.

More information: Enerji Baku

Eleven
High-end nightclub and lounge on the 11th floor of the Park Inn By Radisson Hotel. You need a girl to get in unless you are a hotel guest. Nice view of the Caspian Sea. Few people are dancing. Most are just eating and smoking shisha with their group of friends. Many Russians. As a single foreign guy, you are most likely to be ignored by everyone (if you manage to get in). 10 Manats for a beer. Commercial music. It closes at 4 AM on weekends.

More information: Eleven Baku

Otto
Otto Club is conveniently located in the city center, 300 meters from Fountain Square. 10 Manats entrance fee (they might ask you to be accompanied by a girl). Laid-back atmosphere and crowd (Turkish guests). Live music followed by a DJ every day. Pool tables. Some working girls.

More information: Otto Baku

Barrel Playground
Located about 5 kilometers from the city center, on the seafront, this bar/club opens seasonally a few months every year. They have DJs or live bands playing non-commercial genre (jazz, deep house, etc). Worth a visit if they have a special event.

More information: Barrel Playground

Sintetik
Dark and loud, Sintetik is the best after-hour club in the city. Open on weekends only until 8 AM, it is as underground as it can be. Techno music.

Note that it is closing for the summer and it should reopen in October only. 

More information: Sintetik Baku

There used to be another minimal/techno club called "IN" but they were shut down by the authorities. They still organize parties once in a while so you can check their Facebook for updates (In Club).

Buddha Bar
Another property owned by the Saffron Group. As usual, a nice setting (maybe the most beautiful bar in Baku) but a rather snobbish atmosphere. It can be difficult to enter without a girl unless you make a reservation for dinner. Average, expensive food. 14 Manats for a cocktail. Not too busy.

More information: Buddha Bar Baku

Hashtag Bar
A small, dark bar for the alternative crowd. Techno and trance music.

More information: Hashtag Bar

26
A high-end lounge for the Azeri elite. Free shisha every day for girls. Tiny dancefloor. Not recommended if you are claustrophobic. Some girls are prostitutes.

More information: 26 Lounge Baku

High Boost
A restaurant more than a club, High Boost has a great view on Baku (23rd floor). On weekends, they have live bands and DJs. Strict door policy.

More information: High Boost Baku

Alternatively, if you are looking for another restaurant high up in the air, you can check Gate 25, on the 25th floor of the Demirchi Tower.

Soho Baku
One of those semi-luxury places where you aren't sure if the girls are prostitutes or not. Commercial music. Not so friendly with foreigners.

More information: Soho Bar and Lounge

Best Pubs in Baku
Since Baku has a sizable number of foreign residents (principally working in the oil industry), you can find many expat pubs. Most are located within a few streets from the Fountain Square.

Most of the pubs I visited were very quiet apart from a handful of customers. Some that had a decent crowd were (in that order) Castle PubClansmen, Shakespeare, Red LionHopsShamrockBeer StationLondon PubHairy Lemon and Finnegan's.

You can bar-hop from one another in a single evening as they are walking distance from each other. Just start in Abdulkarim Alizada street or in Tarlan Abdullayev street.

They all serve Western food (sometimes Indian and Mexican too). You can expect sports channels to be turned on and a live band to play on weekends. On average, a beer costs 6 Manats and a cocktail 10 Manats.

There were two pubs I enjoyed more than the others:

Harbour
A crowded bar, full of tourists and expats (especially after work). Outdoor terrace, sports on TV. Live music on weekends. They serve disappointing, yet expensive, Indian food. Owned by the Saffron Group.

More information: Harbour

Bukowski
This tiny pub is one of the cheapest I've been to in Baku (local beers costing less than 1 Manat). It is also one of the most crowded, particularly with students. It is not very comfortable, nor pretty, and the service can take forever. That said, I recommended it if you are interested in socializing with young Azeris.

More information: Bukowski Pub

Best Live Music in Baku

Le Chateau Music Bar

This live music bar was lively both nights I visited it. It has a mixed crowd of young Azeris, expats and backpackers. It's a perfect place to meet other people, especially if you are alone. Some pretty girls. The music schedule is eclectic, from rock to jazz. Check their Facebook for the updated schedule. Cheap prices (starting 1 Manat for a beer and 3 Manats for a whisky coke).

More information: Le Chateau

Hard Rock Café
I don't normally enjoy Hard Rock Cafés, but since the rest of Baku nightlife is so quiet, I feel this one is worth mentioning. It has a very central location, 100 meters from Fountain Square, and every time I passed by it was crowded. It is a good option for single souls who don't feel like exploring the city by themselves.

More information: Hard Rock Café Baku

Gramophone
Small, laid-back café with live local bands (Jazz, folk, blues). Cheap prices (1-2 Manats for a beer, 6 Manats for a cocktail). Near from Le Chateau.

More information: Gramophone Café

Etud
Live music bar in a basement. Relaxed crowd, inexpensive drinks.

More information: Etud

Oxen
Oxen could be a decent bar, but unfortunately, it is empty. Located near from Otto Club/Fountain Square, it is worth checking out if you enjoy listening to non-commercial music (live or DJs). Affordable prices and free entrance.

More information: Oxen

Best Wine Bars in Baku

Room
This homey wine lounge is popular with expatriates and their wives. Reasonable prices and friendly service. Buffet on Wednesday, Wine Tasting on Thursday. DJ on weekends. Live Jazz occasionally.

More information: Room Baku

Kelfi
Similar to Room (but smaller), it also attracts expatriates and trendy locals. Minimalist design. Wide selection of local wines.

More information: Kelfi

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